Letter to the Editor: The Hullabaloo’s sexual violence op-ed mischaracterizes efforts

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Ashley Chen | Views Layout Editor

As members of the Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Committee of the Undergraduate Student Government, we are concerned by the gross mischaracterization of current sexual violence prevention efforts at Tulane in a recent article published by The Hullabaloo. While we acknowledge shortcomings in current efforts such as the lack of intersectional approaches to address the disproportionate effects of sexual violence on communities of color, our committee, other students and university bodies, are working to remedy many of the issues mentioned in the article. These efforts go completely unrecognized in this article.

The USG has also taken several steps to address sexual violence on campus. This year, USG President Joseph Sotile created a new cabinet position, the Director of Sexual Violence Prevention and Response, to oversee the SVPR committee. The committee was created to aid student efforts regarding sexual violence prevention on campus and provide a collaborative space for students and administrators to work together. As a committee, we helped encourage continual trauma-informed care trainings for Tulane University Police Department, held a successful town hall as a platform to communicate with administrators on sexual violence prevention and response and jump-started discussions with administration on implementing restorative justice at Tulane.

Following the Climate Survey, Tulane created the Wave of Change Campaign, which has now been rebranded into All In. While we are the first to admit that the Wave of Change Campaign had significant flaws, including an overemphasis on alcohol as a cause of sexual violence, the university reviewed the feedback and insights in their creation of All In. All In is the driving force working to stop all sexual violence at Tulane.

With the new campaign came a series of initiatives to be implemented in three phases. These phases focus on education, outreach, culture and involvement. The initiatives have included the successful hiring of several new full-time staff members, two additional studies on at-risk populations and a significant allocation of resources to compensate students for their work. It is a gross mischaracterization of the university’s efforts to focus solely on the now-retired Wave of Change campaign despite the flaws it may have had. The updated All In plan reflects many of the student concerns and leaves significant room for growth and improvement as the university continues to collect student concerns and feedback. 

The article fails to draw a meaningful connection between current alcohol policy and sexual assault policy. Our committee and other bodies dealing in sexual assault and violence recognize that a survivor is not at fault when alcohol is involved or in any situation whatsoever, and Tulane programming reflects this principle.

“The Consent Conversation” workshop put on by SAPHE seeks to educate Tulane students about the definition of consent, and TUPHE’s also addresses this issue through bystander intervention training with “One Wave.” While neither of these programs are all-encompassing or could solve the issue of sexual assault on campus unilaterally, both programs emphasize that intoxication does not illicit consent.

Additionally, efforts such as the under-21 border being added to Splash Cards and the addition of a TUPD station across from The Boot Bar & Grill were created by-and-large to address Tulane’s drinking problem. As the All In website states as one of a vast number of undertakings in its prevention plan, “Continue efforts to reduce student high-risk drinking, but also note that these efforts are not to be promoted as or used in place of sexual misconduct prevention measures.”

Furthermore, CAPS and other Tulane mental health institutions such as Case Management are clearly misrepresented in this article. Same-day appointments are available to survivors, and the article inaccurately states that these emergency sessions also have to be scheduled in advance.

Additionally, just this year, Campus Health expanded online scheduling to include CAPS appointments, reducing the barrier of having to call on the phone. The article also incorrectly states that these systems are failing students because a vast majority of assaults go unreported. Not reporting is a personal choice, common among the majority of survivors.

The majority of acts of sexual violence go unreported, both nationally and at Tulane. Our committee, as well as other Tulane institutions, work to provide resources to survivors who do choose to report and/or disclose their experiences as well as provide knowledge about support systems that exist.

If you are angered by the current state of sexual violence on campus, channel that passion into making a meaningful difference on campus, and do not hesitate to reach out to our committee for comment in the future to prevent another article like this one. Join the Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Committee, apply for SAPHE, apply for an All In student grant or join the Student Coalition for Sexual Violence Prevention and Response.

To learn more about current sexual violence prevention efforts and how to get involve visit allin.tulane.edu. In order to eradicate sexual violence on this campus we need to be All In.

Sincerely, 

The 2019-20 Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Committee of the Undergraduate Student Government 

(contact [email protected] with questions or concerns)